Looking for a hook? This might help.


Oh my Goddess!

I was going to knock up a quick, bullet blog to get you up to speed.


It all got too messy. Too much to say. Too much to consolidate.

So. I’m devoting this post to the Scribbles Masterclass because, hey, this is what we do at girl and duck. We learn, share, connect, support each other. And I want to showcase that and spread the Scribbly word!


Annual Scribbles Masterclass, May 2019, Ross House, Flinders Lane, Melbourne.


This year, the core topic was ‘dramatic need’. (Thank you, Liz Ledden, for suggesting we explore this.) We discussed how to use dramatic need, tension threads and story questions in order to hook our readers and make our stories more compelling.

Basically, a dramatic need is a need or desire that our protagonist feels driven to pursue. At all costs. A dramatic need leads to drama!

Whether it’s picture books or novels, a well realised dramatic need will keep your story taut, help you build tension, and help you structure your ideas with more skill and focus. We discussed this at length in the Masterclass.

Incidentally, a kid once wrote and said she loved Truly Tan: Jinxed! because it was so ‘hooking’. Snap! I forgot to share this anecdote with the Scribs. But. Well. Lots of other stuff was shared, analysed, picked apart, including a stack of picture books. We were looking for strong and weak examples of dramatic need.

Heaven. #geeksunite

We also explored ‘story movement’ as per The Anatomy of Story by John Truby. It was great to get a visual appreciation of story and to discuss the many directions a story can take. As we discovered, not all stories are (or have to be) linear. Stories can be explosive, meandering, circular, branching. All sorts of merry things! We discussed examples.

Not only but also!

Jude Rossell spoke to us about transitioning from illustrator to writer. Jude had us laughing and sighing as she walked us through her rich and complex journey. Jude is an industry doyen. She should have been wearing regalia. Honestly!

Jude writes and illustrates the wildly successful Stella Montgomery series. HarperCollins Publishers

And to wind up, Lucinda Gifford, herself an uber talented Scribbler (writer and illustrator), joined Jude and I for a lively (!!) panel discussion and Q and A session.

Resting bitch face panel: Jen, Lucinda, Jude.
And, the reality.
My homies, Emma Bowd (standing) and Dora Porcaro. These fabulous women dished out badges and postcards and raffle tickets, took the roll, and, erm, acted as bouncers.
What happens in Scribbles, stays in Scribbles. Got it?


Ever seen Welcome Back Kotter? I don’t know why, but this classroom always reminds me of that show.



Sharna Carter, I’m lookin’ at you.
Dora is saying, ‘Take the friggin raffle ticket, Lucinda’. Btw, Lucinda actually won a lucky door prize. Not rigged. Honestly!

It was a fantastic class; we covered a heap of ground in three short hours and class members left stimulated and inspired—many of them all set to attend KidLitVic the next day!

The Scribbles world continues to grow and gain traction. In fact, at a KLV gig the following day, a publisher told me the standard of manuscripts submitted for appraisal had risen substantially and she felt it was largely due to Scribbles and the work we’re doing at Girl and Duck! I left that gig glowing. And not because of the champers!

Our final Scribbles intake for 2019 will commence in July. If you want to keep up with all the news, please subscribe to my newsletter. That way you’ll never be left behind!

More from me soon!

Jen xo

PS Subscribers! The ‘Witchy Cottage’ is coming together. If you’re on my mailing list, a video update is coming your way again soon!



Duckies at KidLitVic, Melbourne Town Hall. Awesome!!!


7 Replies to “Looking for a hook? This might help.”

  1. What weekend! I loved Welcome Back Kotter! Our family had the board game! True! And doing a Horshack laugh was my first impersonation skill aged 5 years old. Okay. Off to look at the hook in my book.

  2. Thanks so much Jen – loved the day, and great to delve into all things dramatic need!! Laughing at those earnest faces through the crack in the door (i.e. mine) – #geeksunite indeed!

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